Cleveland Finds Self In Last Place; Looks For Answers

Tucker WarnerContributor IMay 11, 2009

NEW YORK - APRIL 18:  Manager of the Cleveland Indians, Eric Wedge in the dugout during batting practice prior to the game against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on April 18, 2009 in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)

Projected by many analysts to finish atop the AL Central, the Indians have certainly not lived up to expectations. With their current four-game losing streak, they have fallen to last place in Major League Baseball.

With a team ERA of 5.83, good for last in the league, and a team batting average of .263, the blame can be spread to both ends of the team.

With the injury to Travis Hafner, Cleveland has been forced to shuffle between Victor Martinez and Ryan Garko at first base.  While Martinez is leading the team in batting average and only recently snapped a 15 game hitting streak, his replacement at catcher, Kelly Shoppach, has been batting a meager .218.  Garko has been hitting .274, however he only has five extra-base hits and eleven runs batted in.

Projected MVP candidate Grady Sizemore has also been struggling, hitting .227, and starters Jhonny Peralta and first-year Indian Mark DeRosa are close to him, batting only .229 and .238, respectively.

With three starting pitchers having ERAs over 5.00 (Fausto Carmona, Carl Pavano, and Anthony Reyes) and five key relievers having the same statistic, manager Eric Wedge has been searching far and wide for a solution.

The problem gets even tougher when ace pitcher Cliff Lee is factored in.  Lee has a 3.45 ERA in seven starts, but his record is a timid one win and five losses.  Lee and Aaron Laffey, the rare bright spots in Cleveland's pitching rotation, have a combined three wins between them in eleven total starts.

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The Indians begin a three-game home series with the under-achieving Chicago White Sox tonight and are looking to turn around their season starting this week in Progressive Field.  With a talented lineup and a lot of time left in the season, they are hopeful to end the skid.

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